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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A master of spy fiction.
I just love John le Carre's books. He conjures a world of intrigue and double-dealing so effortlessly. This story is no exception as the British Secret Service butts it's head against the Russian Mafia in a tale of unremitting treachery.
Dima is a Russian Mafiosi with a skill in money laundering the spoils of the group's illegal operations worldwide but he falls foul...
Published 8 months ago by I bite

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best of le Carré.
John le Carré's spy novels from the cold war period are rightly regarded as masterpieces of the genre, but with the ending of that phase of history, he has turned to other areas of deception, involving big business, the financial industry, corrupt governments etc. This is one such novel. It starts when a rather naïve academic, Perry, and his lawyer girlfriend,...
Published on 23 Nov. 2012 by Brian R. Martin


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A master of spy fiction., 5 July 2014
This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
I just love John le Carre's books. He conjures a world of intrigue and double-dealing so effortlessly. This story is no exception as the British Secret Service butts it's head against the Russian Mafia in a tale of unremitting treachery.
Dima is a Russian Mafiosi with a skill in money laundering the spoils of the group's illegal operations worldwide but he falls foul of a younger generation of gangsters and offers his secrets to MI6 in return for a safe haven for himself and his family in the U.K.
He uses an unconnected Oxford Don and his lawyer girlfriend as trusted intermediaries and the pair become emotionally involved with Dima and his children as they pursue his cause with the British spies.
Enter now the self-interest of the British Establishment and their political allies, some of whom are deeply entwined with the dealings of the Russians. Bearing in mind the recent 'loss' of secret dossiers with regard to paedophilia within the establishment, the machinations in le Carre's book have a strong ring of truth to them.
I am not going to spoil the ending for future readers. Enjoy the journey.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best of le Carré., 23 Nov. 2012
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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John le Carré's spy novels from the cold war period are rightly regarded as masterpieces of the genre, but with the ending of that phase of history, he has turned to other areas of deception, involving big business, the financial industry, corrupt governments etc. This is one such novel. It starts when a rather naïve academic, Perry, and his lawyer girlfriend, Gail, are holidaying in Antigua when they are befriended by a rich, scary Russian called Dima and his somewhat weird family. Dima is the number one money launderer for Russian mafia-style gangsters, but he has fallen out with them and is afraid that they are about to kill him, just as they recently murdered his close friend. Dima asks Perry to transmit a message to the British security service to the effect that he will `tell all' about the illegal financial activities of the great and the good, including a senior British MP, in exchange of a safe home in England for himself and his family, together with his considerable fortune. This is a highly improbable way to start a novel. What are the chances that a random tourist would know how to contact the security service, and what would Dima have done had Perry declined. Just try another random tourist?

Perry does in fact contact the intelligence service via a fellow academic, and the next part of the book is a long very forensically detailed interrogation of Perry and Gail about the events on Antigua. The secret service personnel who conduct the interviews are unfortunately stereotypes from an earlier age, and I refuse to believe that MI6 is staffed by senior people who still eat `school dinners' in stuffy clubs in Pall Mall and use language from forty years ago. An elaborate plan is concocted to snatch Dima away from his `protectors' at the time of an important financial meeting in Switzerland, then to take him to a safe house where he would be joined by his family prior to flying to England. The deal is made by Hector, the senior secret service officer in charge, but difficulties occur after the snatch, when he encounters resistance from powerful people in England who would stand to lose greatly were the extraction to be successful. The ending, which is largely predictable, has been criticized for being very abrupt, which it certainly is. One reviewer said they felt that the author had grown bored with the whole thing, and I cannot disagree. One is left with the unanswered question about who are the real villains of the piece, the Russian gangsters, or the political and financial power brokers in the UK.

This is definitely not vintage le Carré and judged by his high standards it is rather disappointing, but is still an interesting read, with some good dialogue and characters, whose interactions are convincingly described.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not vintage - but still on good form, 21 Oct. 2010
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Hardcover)
With Le Carré, you don't get mad action. You get people. This is no exception. It's certainly not his greatest work, but it's still a lot better than a lot of spy novels that are out there. Perhaps, it is ultimately a bit predictable, but as ever, you are never quite sure. And when the end comes, it comes suddenly and that can lead to some suggestions of "running out of steam", but how else could it have ended?

When academic Perry and his girlfriend Gail find themselves on a tennis break in Antigua, they have no idea that their lives are going to be turned upside down when they meet a rich and somewhat scarey Russian who wants to play Perry at tennis. Soon, Perry and Gail are unwittingly involved in a bid for asylum as the Russian, Dima, has information that will be of interest to the powers that be, certainly involving the banking sector. This is Le Carré right up to date, full of talk of recession and banking meltdown.

As with any good spy book, we spend time in Paris as well as Antigua, London and Switzerland, with a short jaunt to Russia thrown in for good measure. Le Carré writes beautifully (his dialogue in particular is always authentic) and creates completely believable characters all with their own little character weaknesses. And if Le Carré's best works have been in the Cold War era, you have to admire the resilience of the man to adapt his novels to more modern times.

It's certainly well worth a read, providing you are not expecting vintage Le Carré.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mind-Numbingly Boring Build-Up to Feeble Ending, 10 Oct. 2011
By 
John Fitzpatrick (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
I've read quite a few of Le Carré's books over the years - including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Smiley's People, The Russia House, The Little Drummer Girl and The Tailor of Panama - and have never understood why he has such a high reputation.

This book consists of a 305-page build-up to what I assume is meant to be a dramatic ending although it just fizzles out like a damp squib.

Like The Russia House, it has never-ending interviews and debriefing sessions during which the characters take pages to say nothing.

Le Carré's plots creak and groan like an old oak staircase, the narrative proceeds at snail pace and the reader is subjected to upper and middle class English mores and public school slang.

At times, I felt I had stumbled into a parody of P.G. Wodehouse as the manly English "hero" agrees to act as a mediator between a Russian money launderer he meets in Antigua while on holiday and the British secret service.

The Russian is pure cliché - bald, built like a bear, tattooed, mawkishly friendly one minute, menacing the next, hitting the vodka bottle every page or so and surrounded by villainous body guards whom he does not trust -while the Englishman plays tennis with him and teaches his children to play cricket on a beach.

One of the scenes in this book takes place in a top spy's rundown club in Pall Mall overlooking Regent's Park where the characters drink "vile claret" and eat "shepherd's pie and school cabbage" followed by bread-and-butter pudding while dabbing their mouths with a "moth-eaten damask napkin" as an ageing servant in a "red hunting jacket" shuffles by pushing a "clanking silver trolley".

They say things like: "Bought 'em a sweet little house in Bloomsbury.... Got a decent basement too. Pongs a bit. Not offensively. Used to be someone's wine cellar."

The ending which is set in Switzerland is confusing and unimpressive. I believe Le Carré studied in Bern but his portrait of the majestic Berner Oberland is as unconvincing as his claim that sleepy little Bern is a major financial center. His phonetic attempt at Swiss German is laughable.
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82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I want a proper ending, 25 Sept. 2010
By 
S. Morris (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Hardcover)
For a time it felt like we were back in the happy days of Tinker Tailor and I was absorbed into this novel and very happy that the author seemed about to deliver a similar experience to his Smiley novels.

Then, the larger than life Dima began to be irritating and something began to wane. Even Hector - a very different kind of Smiley - began to let me down too.

I accept that the author has moved on and the villains of today are not the old Cold War warriors so I may be making an unfair comparison with the past. I think that I do appreciate the author has become cynical about institutions - government, the Service,the Swiss, the City - that we once relied upon, naively perhaps.

Still, I was pretty content right up to the end - or the lack of one, to be precise. Maybe the world has reached the point where no-one can win so that there cannot be an ending. Fine, but it seems that such stories are going to leave me feeling that I've rather wasted my time.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre's "non-fiction" world, 10 Oct. 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
I read "Our Kind of Traitor" in a week that the U.S. media revealed that the private prison industry had written and ensured passage of the immigration Arizona law and BP and Halliburton were publicly dukeing it out over responsibility for the catastrophic failure of their joint drilling venture in the Gulf of Mexico. There was other reporting on how Wall Street and financial institutions had manipulated the mortgage markets that resulted in the 2008 recession and how one of the principals in that greed-fest had been let off (judicially) with a slap on the wrist fine. In Russia, more investigative journalists were killed or arrested and the Russian Federation government announced greater involvement in the country's private business sector and put into place a new, Putin-selected Mayor of Moscow. And so it goes most weeks of the year.

John Le Carre has increasingly written in the stark but real terms that accurately reflect what is actually happening in the globalized and corporate controlled world that we live in. He gets a lot of flack for doing so, but you could certainly make an argument that our "now" world (which he faithfully chronicles in his "fiction") is a scarier and more dangerous place for the citizens of developed and developing countries alike than the world that existed before the disintegration of the Communist Bloc in 1989.

"Our Kind of Traitor" is a terrific book with the classic Le Carre mix of rich character development and gradually building plot. By the last chapter, the reader has been inveigled into investing a great deal in the outcome of the story, particularly in the future of the collected characters. But this being a Le Carre cautionary tale, tied very much to political and social reality, the ending is neither simple nor wholly rewarding. This is not a book for those who need the white hats to come out on top. In this author's world, there aren't many white hats out there, and they are always greatly outnumbered by gray and black-hatted adversaries. "Our Kind..." was written very much with the realities of 2010 in mind, and as such, it is neither positive in tone nor optimistic looking toward the future. Like most Le Carre books, I found it an engaging, highly insightful and articulate wake up call for all of us. Let's hope that this author's voice continues to be heard for a long time to come. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great verve and style...., 10 Aug. 2011
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
After the somewhat disappointing A Most Wanted Man John Le Carré is once more back on form with his latest book. An English couple on holiday in the Caribbean meet a rich Russian, Dima, and his family. They are both curious about him - their relationship with him is a mixture of fascination and revulsion. Dima seems to be at odds with the Russian criminal fraternity and wants to make a deal with the British to enable him to live in London and bring his large laundered fortune to British banks.

Needless to say the plan does not go smoothly. Perry and Gail have different motives and the Intelligence Services are murky and untrustworthy. Our Kind of Traitor is written with great verve and style as we are propelled through political and financial machinations. Le Carré casts his cynical eye over the current British establishment. Links between grasping politicians, amoral bankers and the criminal fraternity? Surely not! The dialogue is terrific - especially that of the intelligence agents Hector and Luke. A film script already written....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than the last few in my view, 27 July 2012
This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
I've become so disenchanted with Le Carre's conspiracy theories and barrage of cynicism that I've found his last few books hard going, and certainly not a patch on the old Cold War style novels. But this one got me back to some degree and I'm not really sure why. He certainly he has his own very distinctive style: if he was a poker player you'd easily be able to spot his "tells" and you either like that (or don't mind it at least) or you don't. His establishment characters don't seem to have changed in forty years but then that's the nature of the establishment. His Russians are larger than life, and I couldn't for the life of me work out what motivated Gail to fall in love with the children quite as much and as unthinkingly as she did (there are other things that motivate women beyond children, after all) but I was pretty gripped and didn't find the ending anything like as annoying as many people here have done.

It's nothing like his best, but it's much more like it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 15 Dec. 2010
By 
Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a review of the BBC's unabridged audio book of le Carre's novel. Thinking positively this is, obviously, a full version of the novel so it's not necessary to think about what might have been cut to fit onto a couple of CDs - this work stretches to 14. Also it's well read with the narrator doing characterisations very well indeed.

Thinking less positively, it's something of an effort to work through the CDs. The plot is fairly weak and a little tedious. In fact it feels overlong, so perhaps the abridged version might be better! I also found some aspects of the writing style irritating. There's overuse of phrases, from most of the characters such as 'That's right, isn't it xxx', 'He did, didn't he', 'Am I right' and more. I actually found waiting for these repeated phrases rather more interesting than the book.

Overall, I'd buy the book rather than the CDs. If you have a spare 14 hours or so, it would be better spent reading than listening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Innocence and Experience, 7 Mar. 2012
By 
Stuart Ayris (Tollesbury, Essex, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Our Kind of Traitor (Paperback)
Our Kind of Traitor is John Le Carre's latest novel. I am a huge fan of his writing and rate some of his novels - The Honourable Schoolboy and The Little Drummer Girl in particular - as some of the finest I have read. To my mind his last few - Mission Song and A Most Wanted Man have been a little less effective as they have lacked the broader scope of the majority of his other novels concentrating instead on the minute details of very particular operations. Of course the prose has always been magnificent and that typically english mixture of cynicism and patriotism spot on. Our Kind of Traitor is very much in the mould of A Most Wanted Man but I found it both more enjoyable and exciting.

The novel follows a pair of fairly hapless British tourists, Perry and Gail, who make the acquaintence of a potential Russian defector, Dima, whilst on holiday. They think nothing of it until Dima informs Perry that he has information that would be prized by the British Secret Service and he wishes to barter that information in exchange for the resettlement of himself and his family in England.

The first half of the novel sets up the characters and the agendas at work and the second half deals with the attempts to bring Dima and his family to Britain - no easy task considering the implications on both high ranking British government and city officials who stand to lose greatly were the extraction to be successful.

Gail and Perry are drawn into the plans at Dima's insistence and they bring a very human side to what is essentially a study in the machinations of government, intercontinental commerce and the criminal underworld in Russia. John Le Carre does a wonderful job in fusing the innocence and the experience here and shows himself as always to be so much more than a thriller/espionage writer. And the ending? Fantastic!

I regard this as definitely John Le Carre's best novel since The Constant Gardener and highly recommend it.
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Our Kind of Traitor
Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré (Paperback - 10 April 2014)
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